It’s 2023 and with the world changing to the degree that it has, new concepts have been introduced to our lives and our worlds. For instance, remote work was a concept that was few and far apart. Today, most of us won’t accept a job offer without the ‘work-from-home’ option.
The shift in society that I’ve enjoyed the most is the image of beauty and particularly, the image of what a mother looks like.
A sexy pregnant belly?
Thanks to Queen Riri, maternity wear no longer looks like a curtain or sheet wrapped around a barefooted feminine body, hiding all of her curves and the life that is growing inside of her. Instead, she is a mystical goddess, one positioned between the past and the future: she comes from a heritage, a history, a line of struggle and pain and joy and love; and one that is yet to be birthed into existence.
A pregnant mother in 2023 is adorned in jewels and clothes and make-up, and sometimes even lingerie or bikinis. We have pregnancy shoots and gender reveals and labour shoots to celebrate the miracle that it is to be carrying a life inside of you.
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I remember going through my mom’s old photographs in search of her pregnancy photos and failing to find any. Being a pregnant mother in the 90s wasn’t as glamorous as it is today. For my mother, there was a sense of shame around the physical state of being pregnant and even though she followed the traditional route of getting married before having her kids, the shame was centred around her pregnant body.
With the image of beauty changing, we – as a society – have become far more accepting of women’s curves and creases, making space for the beauty of pregnant bellies and post-partum bodies.
Or so I’d like to think.
The case of Keke Palmer
Last week, the story of Keke Palmer and her baby’s father, Darius Jackson went viral as Keke decided to strut her post-partum self to Usher’s residency in Las Vegas. She donned a sexy, Givenchy dress to which many had complimented her for her post-baby glow.
[WATCH] Essence breaks down the Keke Palmer/Darius/Usher ordeal
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After hearing the dispiriting stories of post-partum depression, negative body image and how unsexy women generally feel after they give birth, watching Keke strut her stuff gave the future mother in me some hope that another narrative exists.
For Darius, this was not the narrative that he signed up for and chose to publicly body-shamed her on Twitter, saying:
“We live in a generation where a man of the family doesn’t want the wife & mother to his kids to showcase booty cheeks to please others & he gets told how much of a hater he is,” he wrote via Twitter. “This is my family & my representation. I have standards & morals to what I believe. I rest my case.”
His public commentary was loaded and overflowing with toxic masculinity as he feebly used her role as a mother as an excuse to shame her, which is literally the oldest card to play by an entitled heterosexual man.
Keke is not just a wife and mother, she is also a woman. A woman that has been confident and body positive prior to becoming his wife and a mother.
What is it about toxic heterosexual men trying to police their partners once they become wives? And why does it become even more apparent after they become moms?
Feature image: Unsplash